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Despite the setbacks, visit by minister is time for hope

News broke this week that the Ports Minister is planning to visit Dover shortly. It is hoped that he will set out proposals for change and reform at the port.

Readers will recall that our port was put up for sale by Gordon Brown when he was Prime Minister. He stuffed the Port of Dover into his car boot sale along with a host of other assets. His aim was to seek a fast buck.

The port sell off caused great anger in our community. We did not want to see our key asset sold off to the French or whoever. People also felt that the port had long pleased itself. That it had done little for the town. The state of the port's waterfront was a source of concern to the community. Many port workers had been dismissed and our community had little say or involvement in the port's future.

So the matter of the port was never just about stopping the previous Government's sell off plan. It was always about wider change and reform. The key priorities included a say for the community on the future of the port and the renewal of the seafront to provide high quality jobs for people from our corner of Kent. In addition, it was important that the people of the Dover community benefitted from the port. This is what the People's Port campaign has been all about.

It is therefore my hope that the Ports Minister will come to Dover to set out the Government's answers to these key challenges. We need to see a community led port. A community say in the boardroom. We need to see the ability to raise and apply funds to the renewal of the port - to making Dover once again a jewel in the crown of the nation. We need to see a benefit for the community from any changes that are made.

Many people tell me that it's taken a long time to get to this point. Stopping the sell off took nearly three years. Moving forward reform has taken over a year. This is absolutely true. It is mainly because there has been significant opposition. The kind of political pigmies who like to indulge in point scoring have had a negative impact. There are no two ways about it. They have caused significant delay. They may well damage the settlement our community gets at the end of the day.

I have been and remain heavily involved in seeking the best possible settlement. The greatest possible community involvement in the future of the port. The greatest possible community benefit. The widest possible ambition and powers to regenerate, renew and transform the port and the town. Because of the opposition we have had it won't be all that I would have wanted. Yet I continue to work tirelessly to ensure we have the best possible settlement for the betterment of our community.

Conservative run Dover District Council is moving ahead with plans to demolish Burlington House and redevelop the site on Dover's Townwall Street. Do you support this?

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Dover & Deal Conservative Association, 54 The Strand, Walmer, Deal, Kent   CT14 7DP
Tel: 01304 379669      Email: enquiries@doverconservatives.com